Interview With Aquascaper George Farmer

To spark your inspiration we have asked George Farmer some questions about aquascaping. As a well known aquascaper and co-founder of the UK Aquatic Plants Society he is incredibly talented and can teach us some cool tips and tricks about aquascaping.

Hi George, first of all thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. To start off, can you tell us something about yourself? Where do you live? How does you daily life look like? What do you do for a living?

Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed!

I'm 38 and live with my beautiful girlfriend and our wonderful children in Cambridgeshire, England. My day job varies between aquascaping, writing, photography and various consulting work. I left the Royal Air Force after 14 years to pursue my passion of aquatics and am self-employed. Other hobbies are running and going to the gym. I also love red wine and cheese.

What got you into the aquascaping hobby?

Takashi Amano's work was instrumental and I knew as soon as I saw his aquascapes I wanted to take that path of the hobby. I learnt how to grow plants and after lots of practice and mistakes, learnt how to aquascape.

You have created several great aquascapes, but which one is your personal favorite and why?

Probably my first 'real' aquascape is my favourite. I created it in 2005 and it was a very simple layout with a large Java fern surrounded by Sagittaria and a glosso carpet. It was the first time I really started to realise how to combine good plant growth with aquascaping techniques such as using focal points and textures.

Of all the different styles (Nature AquariumDiorama AquariumIwagumi AquariumDutch AquariumJungle Aquarium) which one is your favorite? Under what style would you label your own work?

Nature Aquarium is my favourite. There is something so calming and serene about a well-aquascaped Nature Aquarium. I'm not a big fan of diorama because I feel they are too contrived for my taste. I also love  Iwagumi Style Aquascape, which I classify as a form of Nature Aquarium style. I don't really have my own style because I have created aquascapes under most styles, but if I had to choose one it would be Nature Aquarium.

Where do you get the inspiration for your work?

Other aquascapers mainly - Takashi Amano, Dave Chow, Cliff Hui are my favourite Asian guys. The Senske brothers are an inspiration and I respect those guys so much. Sometimes I will get ideas from nature too. I think subconsciously I am influenced and inspired by many things...

Tell us something about the technical aspect of you aquascapes. What filtration, light units, CO2 and fertilization do you use?

I overfilter usually. Good circulation is essential if you're running CO2. I tend to use LED almost exclusively these day - they're so efficient and reliable. I usually inject CO2 using an inline diffuser in larger tanks, or a small in-tank ceramic diffuser in smaller tanks. Sometimes I'll dose liquid carbon instead of CO2 if I want less maintenance. Tropica Specialised is my favourite liquid fertiliser. I've been using it for years in almost all of my aquascapes.

What 5 tips can you give to beginner or even advanced aquascapers?

  1. Be patient.
  2. Get the hardscape right. More is often better. Take your time with it.
  3. Don't use too much light, especially initially (see no.1).
  4. Don't skimp on maintenance. Set aside time and learn to enjoy it.
  5. Enjoy it.

The biggest problem with aquascaping is the algae bloom beginners encounter. What do you do to prevent it? And if it’s too late, what can you do to get your tank nice and algae free again?

Good equipment and plenty of regular maintenance. Not too much light and lots of water changes. Don't overstock fish and ensure filtration/circulation is excellent. Don't let waste organics accumulate. To treat algae first address the root cause. Then depending on the type depends on the treatment. Spot dosing liquid carbon is effective for most types. Lots of Amano shrimp or other suitable algae eaters can work. Limiting lighting too.

Can you tell us something about

It was formed after Tom Barr from Tom Barr - suggested the UK was ready for it's own club. We started the website in 2007 and its grown to have over 11,000 members and 20 sponsors now. It's one of the best planted tank resources in the world.

Some last tips/tricks you want to share with our readers?

Think about what you want to achieve, your budget, and how much maintenance you want to undertake. Set yourself realistic goals. Buy good quality plants - tissue cultured are often the best.

Thank you for answering our questions George and best of luck!

Find more of George's work and stay up to date about his latest scapes:

  • aquascaping
  • George Farmer
  • interview
  • iwagumi
  • nature aquarium
  • planted tank
  • takashi amano

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